On 40 acres year-round in Bolinas and on 20 acres during winter in SoCal’s Coachella Valley, Star Route Farms grows lettuces, chicories and nettles so flavorful, chefs like Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) and Traci Des Jardins (The Commissary) clamor to add them to menus. Annabelle Lenderink manages the farm, as well as another called La Tercera on small plots in Bolinas and Petaluma where she cultivates near-forgotten varietals like the Italian Marina d’Chioggia squash. Recent Star Route additions like celtuce (Chinese stem lettuce) and melon cucumbers from Puglia will likewise bring a glint to an intrepid chef’s eye.
Cool coastal climate crops are Star Route’s specialty. Greens, herbs and non-heat-loving vegetables, such as fennel, beans, squash, broccoli, onions, artichokes and radishes, are available almost year-round, but late spring brings a seasonal bounty: blink and the time for fava greens and nettles is almost over. With this spring’s regular rains, Meyer lemons and romaine, Little Gem lettuces, arugula and spinach have kept growing later in the season. And where would we be without the beets and carrots? These favorites help Marin residents bridge into summer, when basil, summer squash and cucumbers take over the table.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Take the Star Route”.